An Event Apart 2017: Obvious Always Wins by Luke Wroblewski

The first time that I saw Luke Wroblewski speak was at the very first conference I ever attended, in 2008, at UIE, and it was about forms. (I think it was a workshop.) I learned 3 things then:

  1. I could learn a ton from fellow Information Architects
  2. Forms are haaaaaaaaard until you learn them and then not as much, but since they’re still a huge percentage of the web experience, you need to do them right.
  3. Luke is freakin’ brilliant.

Since then Luke’s done a lot of other freakin’ brilliant things, especially around designing mobile first. He maintains a great website full of resources and presentation notes and is part of the reason why I feel it’s my responsibility to take notes at conferences and share what I learn. Oh, and if you have an interest in brand, Luke’s got a very strong personal brand reflected in both his website and his slides, that’s worth taking a look at.

Today’s presentation is about what “obvious” design is (and isn’t), and how we can achieve it.

An Event Apart 2017 Obvious Always Wins by Luke Wroblewski (pdf)

(Me too, Erin. Me too.)

One of Luke’s strengths is that he has data – quantitative information – to back the vast majority of his assertions regardless of what field he’s speaking in, and he knows how to analyze the data. Almost every tweet above was in response to a graph of data backed by quality sources.

The other speakers to this point talked about the importance of quantitative and qualitative data; Luke’s talk illustrates the power of using it to drive design decisions and tell a story.

Now, back to that iPhone thing…

Oh and if anyone wants to argue about the importance of navigation with me, as an Information Architect I’ll gladly fill your ears with design heuristics and proximity principles and sense of environment and direction lectures….

…we need more IAs in the field, so if you’re not an IA and this sounds fun please consider our career field (and/or a good counselor).

So Luke’s working at Google, and they were trying to redesign an application on an Android device because they knew there were navigational problems, but they weren’t sure what the best answer to those problems was.


How to fix your navigation problem:

On the left, the onboard computers from a bike crash that took place during the Tour de    France. On the right, pictures of the people involved in the crash directly after it took place.

The answer, of course, is both. The qualitative data tells a story, and the quantitative data backs that story up, adds a layer of meaning and rigor that the qualitative data can’t.

When doing a survival analysis, it’s important to watch for selection bias and/or test your hypotheses. There’s a famous story about WW2 planes and selection bias that shows how insidious it can be.

Going back to the design Luke was testing…


More of Krystal Higgins’ awesome sketchnotes



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